The band just about stays the right side of pretentious by seeming to be utterly enthusiastic about anything and everything.
The Most Serene Republic – Population
Cracking release this, big, breathy, passionate and never afraid to sound pompous. Which can be a good thing if you've got the nerve to pull it off. The opener Humble Peasants is a great, affirmative jumble of instruments and boasts some ridiculous whistling which somehow doesn't feel out of place at all.
Population is a riot of off-the-cuff observations and demented key changes, as Compliance or Present of Future End will testify. The band just about stays the right side of pretentious by seeming to be utterly enthusiastic about anything and everything. A Mix of Sun and Cloud's jazzy elegance can catch you off guard, especially when you consider what's gone on before, but growls soon dissipate; after all anything goes with Population, it seems. Everything's so damned giddy. Even when taking a more sedate approach, Most Serene Republic can't help changing key at some point, usually with the aid of strings, as on The Men Who Live Upstairs or The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
It's elegiac stuff, reliant on repeat choruses or upbeat, swirling vocal phrasing (Why So Looking Back is prime evidence), but it never leaves you bored, there's a definite pop sensibility driving this record, and because of this the music never at any moment falls apart.
An enervating listen.
Words: Richard Foster